November 2005 Meeting

Monday, November 7, 2005
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
Lamar Alexander Building
Room 223


Application of a Geochemical Evaluation Methodology:
A Success Story for Environmental Site Cleanup and Closure at
Former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Mark A. Gardiner, PG
Senior Hydrogeologist/Geochemist
Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure
Knoxville, Tennessee


A geochemical evaluation methodology was applied to distinguish between naturally occurring concentrations of metals and contamination in soil, sediment, and groundwater at environmental investigation sites. The methodology involves statistically comparing site data to background concentrations to determine if statistical outliers exist. If so, then additional evaluation is performed by comparing trace metals of concern to major metals, which are known to have natural relationships in environmental media. In this case study, arsenic was evaluated at several sites at Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant (VOAAP), Chattanooga, Tennessee, to reliably distinguish between naturally occurring arsenic and contamination. Recommendations for remediation were agreed to by the restoration team, which included the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the U.S. EPA, and site cleanup was performed. Application of the geochemical evaluation methodology demonstrated that arsenic concentrations two to three times the accepted VOAAP background level were actually within the range of naturally occurring concentrations. Therefore, higher concentrations of arsenic were allowed to remain in soil. The remedy was protective of human health and the environment, and cleanup of naturally occurring background levels of arsenic was avoided.


Page updated May 26, 2018